Saturday, February 4, 2017

Of Hookers and Wives

Hawaiian bill would legalize prostitution

The Japan Times  AP  Feb 4, 2017

Tracy Ryan, a transgender activist, talks about why she is pushing a bill to legalize prostitution on Friday at the state Capitol in Honolulu. | AP

HONOLULU – Hawaiian lawmakers are considering decriminalizing prostitution with a bill that would also legalize buying sex and acting as a pimp.

The proposal also would end a state law that says police officers cannot have sex with prostitutes in the course of investigations.

Transgender activist Tracy Ryan said she is trying to convince state lawmakers to pass the bill because transgender women are overrepresented in the sex trade and therefore disproportionately affected by criminalization laws.

House Speaker Joseph Souki said in an interview that he does not have a position on the bill and he introduced it as a favor for Ryan. “I don’t like seeing people sent to jail that don’t belong there,” Ryan said.

But a longtime opponent of sex trafficking, Kathryn Xian, said that legalizing the selling, promoting and buying of sex would make it harder to police the industry. “If this bill passes and everything was no crime whatsoever, then abuses against women and children would just shoot through the freaking roof,” Xian said. “It would be exponentially harder to prove violence in the industry. It would be almost impossible to prove any sort of labor abuse.”

Asked about the part of the bill that strikes out language preventing police from having sex with prostitutes during investigations, Souki said, “No, again I have nothing to say about the bill.”

Hawaii has an unusual history with prostitution investigations. Until 2014, it was legal for police officers to have sex with prostitutes as part of investigations, but state lawmakers changed that after The Associated Press highlighted the loophole in a story.

Ryan wants to preserve the law that prevents police from having sex with prostitutes before arresting them, but “if they can’t arrest them anyway because it’s no longer illegal, it’s a moot point,” she said.
Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro said the bill would make it harder to address global sex trafficking because “it would be more difficult to find the bad actors, more difficult to get witnesses to make cases.”

Michael Golojuch Jr., chairman of the LGBT caucus of the Democratic Party of Hawaii, said transgender women are overrepresented compared with other women in the sex trade because the discrimination they face leads some to feel it is the only kind of work they can get.

Golojuch personally supports the idea of decriminalizing prostitution but said he and the caucus had not yet taken an official position on the bill.

“My dream job would be union organizer for consensual sex workers,” Golojuch said. “It would be great for people who want to do that work to unionize them and empower them so that they are taken care of.”

Not everyone thinks legalizing prostitution would benefit sex workers.

“By normalizing sexual exploitation and recasting it as a career choice that has no harms attached, we’re creating a setting and a system where we are OK with objectifying women, where we’re OK with buying other human beings’ bodies, and that has effects that are far-reaching in terms of how women are treated,” said Khara Jabola, chapter coordinator of Af3irm Hawaii, a feminist group.

The bill and another to decriminalize marijuana may be part of a push to reduce the prison population, House Majority Leader Scott Saiki said.

But any decriminalization bills are unlikely to pass before the Legislature gets a report from a working group that has been meeting on the topic. That report isn’t expected before the session ends, Saiki said.

Arkansas Law Will Let Husbands Sue to Prevent Wives from Getting Certain Abortions  by Christina Cauterucci Feb. 3 2017 5:20 PM

Lawmakers in Arkansas have banned doctors from performing an extraordinarily safe, constitutionally protected medical procedure. Thinkstock

A new Arkansas law has established a ban on one specific abortion procedure, dilation and evacuation (D&E), effectively blocking medical practitioners from performing abortions after around 14 weeks gestation.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed the poetically named Unborn Child Protection From Dismemberment Abortion Act, into law last week. This act makes it a felony to perform a D&E, by far the most common procedure used in second-trimester abortions, which account for about 11 percent of all terminations in the U.S. The law won’t go into effect until later this year, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas told the Huffington Post that it plans to challenge the law in court before then.

In a D&E, a medical practitioner dilates the cervix and removes fetal tissue with forceps, a scraping tool, and vacuum suction. The same procedure is often used to remove fetal tissue after a miscarriage. The Supreme Court guaranteed women the right to abortion before fetal viability, which experts put around 22 to 24 weeks gestation. The new Arkansas law denies women their right to access abortions in the two and a half months before their fetuses are viable. It makes no exceptions for mental health disorders or the physical health of the pregnant woman unless there’s a severe risk of death or “substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.”

Dilation and extraction, a procedure formerly used very rarely in late-term abortions, was made illegal in the U.S. with 2003’s Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act. Thus, when doctors are forbidden from performing D&Es, there’s virtually no other way—and certainly no equally safe way—for them to perform abortions after 14 to 16 weeks gestation, depending on the pregnancy.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, West Virginia and Mississippi already have D&E bans in effect. (This is likely the reason why the only remaining abortion clinic in West Virginia doesn’t offer abortions past 16 weeks.) Oklahoma, Louisiana, Kansas, and Alabama have also passed D&E bans, but they’re blocked from taking effect while challenges to the policies trickle through the court systems.

The most disturbing part of the new Arkansas law is a provision that allows the husband or legal guardian of a woman seeking a D&E to stop her from doing so by suing for injunctive relief. This means that a man who rapes his wife or a father who rapes his daughter will be able to prevent her from terminating a resulting pregnancy in the second trimester. A survivor of sexual violence may need an abortion later in her pregnancy because the trauma of assault could make it difficult for her to consider and confront the consequences. If a woman does get a doctor to perform a D&E, under the Arkansas law, her husband could also sue the abortion provider for damages.

These provisions are more symbolic than anything—once a medical procedure is made illegal, health care providers are very unlikely to risk their jobs, freedom, and futures to perform it. Lawmakers in Arkansas just wanted to make a strong statement to shame women for seeking a safe procedure to which they have a constitutional right. In their battle for complete control over women’s bodies, Hutchinson and his right-wing legislators have drafted husbands onto their side.
This might be a good time to re-read "A Handmaid's Tale." 

"The seminal work of speculative fiction from the Booker Prize-winning Margaret Atwood."

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable."

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